In the weeks and months leading up to the trip, I had a Rome reading list, a movie-watching list, Web sites bookmarked, and was learning Italian for tourists – all of which got short shrift from me as other things took priority. But in the end the trip was still pretty darn wonderful; I’ll probably be writing and talking about it for a while if I can get any other blog posts done before I’m submerged in real life again.
Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City by Elizabeth Minchilli is a wonderful guide to Roman food and drink. The author fills you in on how the locals order at restaurants (e.g. Drink beer, not wine, with pizza) and coffee bars (e.g. Don’t buy coffee at the counter and take it to a table to sit down) and street food (e.g. Don’t eat while walking around, unless it’s gelato or a very particular slice of pizza) but she advises you as a friend, and as someone who was once new to these strange customs herself –not in a scolding way!
The book also has sections on stocking your Italian pantry , shopping in the markets, and many recipes for recreating favorite meals when you return home. The author had written five coffee table books about various Italian topics before beginning her blog, Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome, where she writes about the city she loves and has lived in for years. An American, she spent some time in her childhood living in Rome when her parents upped and moved the whole family there after taking a three-week vacation in Italy (!) and after going back to Florence for grad school work, she ended up marrying an Italian man and settling down in Rome, which she describes as “the city I had always truly considered home in my heart.”
This is from the introduction to Eating Rome:
“Eating Rome is my homage to the city that feeds me – literally and figuratively. It is a personal, quirky, and (I hope) fun look at the city through my own food-focused vision. This is how I experience Rome, day by day, bite by bite.”
But even though it seemed like I took a LOT of pictures of food on our vacation, we did do a lot of sight-seeing, too! We also had must-try restaurant suggestions from others, plus a restaurant meal in Rome takes 2-3 hours minimum, so we didn’t get to visit anywhere near all of the places Elizabeth Minchilli writes so temptingly about in her book. Plus, not being locals, we did a lot of the touristy type of eating, too (lots of sidewalk cafes.)
However, we did eschew the touristy after-dinner drink (limoncello) in favor of trying grappa and amaro, although the waiter the first time we ordered grappa was so sure we wouldn’t like the very strong liquor he brought us a bottle of limoncello, a sweet liqueur, too!
Thanks to Eating Rome, we also managed to avoid the touristy gaffe of ordering cappucino at any other time than in the morning, but I think that the Rome coffee culture deserves a blog post of its own! (Chapter 6 of Eating Rome is titled “How to Order Coffee Like a Roman”.)
Happy Weekend Cooking!